Content or Keywords, who are you writing for?

The easy answer is Content.  When you are developing content for your website, the SEO aspect of producing content that search engines will treat favorably is important.  But guess what, as search engines have evolved, they have become increasingly in tune with natural language writing.  That is, they like content that is written for people, not content that attempts to over-target keywords.

Content for SEO

Not that using your keywords is a bad idea, just do it within your natural flow of writing.  Don’t try to hit any magic keyword density target.  Instead, make your content useful and meaningful to your audience as your primary objective.  The goal of content development and SEO is to bring relevant traffic to your website which then finds value in the content of your site and proceeds to take action, such as contacting you, requesting further information, visiting your physical location, calling you on the phone, etc.  Therefore, if you load your content by stuffing keywords and attract traffic with low relevance, you will have disappointing conversion rates and the efforts you have put into the content development (and all content development costs you money in some way) will see little or no return on your marketing investment.

Content Review Process

Always approach content development as a draft-review-adjust-post process.  Once you have drafted your content, identify a resource to review it, preferably someone without bias towards the content or the subject matter.  In some cases, you have no option except for a self review.  In the review, hopefully an un-biased and objective review, keep two things in mind.

  1. Is your content useful to the target audience?
  2. Does your content encourage the reader to take more action on your site?

The first test is important to the reader, it ensures that your content development is aligned with your marketing plan, which should be developed around your target market.  That is, does it address the goals, needs, problems, or wants of your customers?  The second test is relevant to your goals, does it help your company grow by increasing the contacts, prospects, leads, and customers?

Where Do My Keywords Go?

In a recent Matt Cutts article (Google spokesman) says Google is now better at finding your search term, even if the words are spread out. An example: Jim likes to hunt with a bow in the forest for deer may match to bow hunt deer.  It is not critical to try and jam all your long-tail search terms into your content in a way that is overly repetitive and awkward for the reader.  With that said, it is important to find a way to include your keywords within your content.  This is the Adjust portion of the review cycle.  Go back one last time to your content and re-read it, with the 2 or 3 keywords you want to target within the content, on a scratch piece of paper.  Then, without altering the flow or meaning of the text, ensure that your keywords are included.  Do not write any additional sentences or change your copy from well written to junk by trying to force keywords into the content.  The SEO value that you think you may receive by stuffing keywords will be overshadowed by a high abandonment rate due to weak content.